After a few turbulent years, countless controversies, and one canceled project after another, rapper Kanye West’s tenth studio album “Donda” has arrived. Although a puffed-up juggernaut of a record with too much padding to fully sustain himself, he delivers a number of hard-hitting hits, beautiful rap and gospel tunes, and an all-new Kanye sweetened with a relatively small dud pool for her size .
“Donda” marks the second installment of Kanye’s new direction in creating non-secular Christian rap, the first being the disappointing “Jesus Is King”, a mundane album filled with dull gospel, its only saving grace being its relatively short duration. . The album bears the name and pays homage to his mother Donda West, whose death in 2007 greatly affected Kanye’s emotional stability and altered his career trajectory. Grief prompted him to produce records such as “808s & Heartbreak” and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, arguably contributing to his selfish public personality. This character has become iconic for his own status as a perceived god and times such as Taylor Swift’s interruption in speech at the 2009 VMAs.
As is the case with all of West’s records, the events leading up to the album’s release are almost as important to understanding Kanye’s Madness Method as the content of the record itself, for purely reasons. contextual. There are songs dedicated to topics surrounding West’s life that had occurred a few months ago, such as the deterioration (and eventual reconciliation) of his marriage to Kim Kardashian (“Lord I Need You”, “Come to Life “) and rekindling her long-lived feud with Drake (” Ok Ok “,” Pure Souls “).
The record starts off on a faux pas with the mantra of “Donda Chant”, a track which, despite many attempts to prescribe meaning with such absurd theories as the rhythm of the song being the same as Donda West’s dying heartbeat, ultimately delays the momentum of the music with nonsense. Fortunately, subsequent tracks such as “Jail” are a significant improvement in quality, providing distorted guitar riffs, an electrifying reunion verse from longtime collaborator and legendary hip-hop figure Jay-Z, and a mantra much. more powerful of “Guess who’s going to jail tonight?” within the choir. The tracks “God Breathed” and “Off the Grid” bring aggression with guest artists Fivio and Vory, pulling their own weight with strong flows and harsh words over abrasive rhythms. Additionally, tracks like “Hurricane” and “Praise God” successfully introduce and integrate elements of gospel music into rap.
“Jonah” marks the transition from the solid start of the record to a dull middle; the weak, repetitive Vory hook and overall underwhelming sound are a harbinger of filler trails to follow. The addition of “Ok Ok” and “Junya” rounds out the trio of mediocrities plagued by uninteresting topics, lackluster guest performances from Lil Yachty and Playboi Carti, and underdeveloped instrumentals that sound like they’re in. half cooked in the span of the two weeks Kanye spent locked in a stadium. The songs “Remote Control”, “Keep My Spirit Alive” and “New Again” seemed equally underdeveloped and unnecessary for the song list, although at least those were split between much better songs.
The middle of the record isn’t a complete drag, the track “Believe What I Say” masterfully samples Lauryn Hill to create perhaps the grooviest song on the record. “Heaven and Hell” has Kanye giving a solid performance over a heavy beat, and “Moon” has one of the strongest features on the album with Kid Cudi providing his iconic vocals and Don Toliver completing the tapestry with his beautiful vocals. . The two tributes, “24” and “Donda” stand as respectful and emotional epitaphs of lost loved ones and as works of musical art, “24” an assurance that all will be well and that God has none. finished with his work. “Donda” is a touching ode to the woman who inspired Kanye the most, sampling excerpts from his mother’s speech at Chicago State University. The colossal “Jesus Lord” is a feat of concentrated religious faith and a track that captivates despite its running time, with Kanye providing a verse that could rival Tyler, the creator’s “WILSHIRE” in length and density. This song was completed by Jay Electronica and a moving outro provided by Larry Hoover Jr., son of the founder of Gangster Disciples.
The worst track, “Tell the Vision,” comes along and stumbles towards the end of the record’s runtime. Garage Band’s backing instrumental and terribly torn Pop Smoke vocals, high hats and all make the inclusion of this song an even more confusing choice than sampling “The Globglogabagalab” on the track “Remote Control “. The sin of including “Tell the Vision” in the tracklist is almost forgiven by the track that doesn’t even arrive 10 minutes later: “Come to Life”. The gospel track is haunted by Kanye’s unbridled emotion and his reflections on recent events that have filled him with melancholy. The track is also accompanied by a heavenly assortment of instruments that elevates the track to levels of grandeur that rival Kanye’s magnum opus “Runaway” from his MBDTF album.
Kanye still seems to find his place in the non-secular direction his music has taken, as evidenced by the awkward censorship of profanity on the album replaced by silence. He seems to have rediscovered his passion for music after fiddling with clothing lines and architecture. While the record could have been cut from its disappointing filler tracks and ended up with a much more cohesive 12-track record, the project is an overall success, amounting to everything Ye’s disappointing last record should have been.
Maddie Ray can be contacted by email at [email protected]